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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Accusations should be deep-sixed

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Well, they did it again. american rivers, a Washington D.C. environmental group, labeled the Missouri River the most endangered river in america. This is not the first time they have made this claim, and this is not the first time their powerful statement, no matter how inaccurate, received widespread media attention.

In spite of the accusations, american Rivers' concern is not about pollution. they feel river navigation threatens recreation and wildlife. In other words, it's pleasure boating, water skiing and wildlife habitat they consider endangered, not the Missouri River.

The Army Corps of Engineers is still in the long process of considering future management of the river, and the timing of the American rivers' accusations not accidental. They hope to bring public pressure favoring change of the Master Manual, the Corps rule book for management of the river.

During the spring thaw and rainy season, the Corps slows the flow of the river, allowing water to back into the reservoirs to prevent downstream flooding. During the dry season, water is released from the reservoirs to maintain adequate levels for river navigation and other downstream uses.

To keep their reservoirs at ideal levels, upstream states would have the Corps release water during the spring, increasing the already dangerous flood season. Missouri's river bottom farm land, the richest, most fertile fields we have, would be endangered.

To keep reservoirs full for upstream water skiing in the summer and fall, downsteam flow would be reduced, curtailing river navigation. This is the busiest time of the year for shipping grain by barge to New Orleans for export, and such a move could force river navigation out of business and increase shipping costs for farm products headed abroad, making American farmers less competitive.

If farmers absorbed the increased transportation costs, it would mean considerably lower prices for farmers. and to make matters worse, farmers would have to pay higher transportation prices for imported fertilizer which would be trucked from New Orleans, instead of barged upstream.

U.S. ag exports account for more than a fourth of the value of Missouri's ag receipts, and contribute billions of dollars to our nation's balance of trade. if american rivers, upstream politicians and the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service are successful, we will compromise Missouri's most productive farmland, the entire barge industry, flood control in towns and cities along the river, including our state's largest metropolitan areas, hydroelectric power and municipal water supplies.

American Rivers' accusations are full of holes and their proposals for the Master Manual should be deep-sixed.